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PSCI 1040. Week One. Book Notes "We the People/Governing Texas"

by: Harley Hall

PSCI 1040. Week One. Book Notes "We the People/Governing Texas" PSCI 1040

Marketplace > University of North Texas > Political Science > PSCI 1040 > PSCI 1040 Week One Book Notes We the People Governing Texas
Harley Hall
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About this Document

These notes cover material found in the first chapter of our class's "We the People/Governing Texas" textbook. *Note: this is not the online textbook, notes for the online material will be put in a...
American Government
Mr. Eddie Meaders
Class Notes
political science, texas, Government, American Government, 1040




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Harley Hall on Tuesday August 30, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSCI 1040 at University of North Texas taught by Mr. Eddie Meaders in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 114 views. For similar materials see American Government in Political Science at University of North Texas.

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Date Created: 08/30/16
Week One. PSCI 1040 Book Notes. Book Concept Term We the People/Governing Texas  Intro- o Most Americans distrust the government o Most citizens want the government to do things for them and not to them o Government provides services that are very obvious in daily life and services that are more hidden (Social Security being an example of an obvious service while water supply is not typically thought of as being government regulated) o Government- institutions through which a land and its people are ruled o Politics- conflicts/struggles over the leadership, structure, and policies of governments  What Americans Think about Government- o Americans are hesitant to giving government too much power o Government support fluctuates, typically being higher in times of crisis or war (think 9/11 and the Great Depression) o Most citizens feel like they can’t influence government’s actions o Long-term distrust in the government can cause many problems including but not limited to:  The government not being able to attract good and strong workers to public service, resulting in inefficiency  The above listed weakening of government can result in decreased defense, lowered capacity to defend national interest o Political Efficacy- ability to influence government and politics o Political efficacy is needed to maintain democracy, without it government officials will only be serving a small pool of people instead of all that they are supposed to serve o Not every effort made by citizens will shape government’s actions but without any citizens trying there would be no democracy  Citizenship: Knowledge and Participation- o Most people are only politically indifferent because they are unaware of either the issue or the way the issue effects them directly o Citizenship means more than just patriotism o Ancient Greeks thought of citizenship as having “membership in one’s community,” which included debate, public discussion, and service to the improve the community o Democracy functions best when citizens are informed o Political knowledge is needed to  Be aware of political interests or stance on a political dispute  Identify the best ways to act on said interests  Be aware of what can NOT be asked/expected of government and government officials o Digital citizenship is becoming more important in politics  Digital citizens are more likely to have an interest in politics, to have open discussions about politics, to vote, and find other ways to actively participate  Government- o Government is the best way to provide the public goods that no individual or group can afford to supply (national road system, public schools, hospitals) but there is disagreement about what public goods are essential and the means by which they’re provided o Autocracy- a single individual (king, queen, or dictator) rules o Oligarchy- a small group (landowners, military, wealthy) controls most of the governing decisions o Democracy- form of government that permits citizens to play a part in the governmental process (typically through electing officials) o Constitutional Government- formal and effective limits are placed on the powers of the government o Authoritarian Government- the government recognizes no formal limits but my still be restrained by the power of other social institutions o Totalitarian Government- the government recognizes no formal limits on its power and seeks to absorb or eliminate institutions that may challenge it o The bourgeoisie (French for “freeman of the city,” present day equivalent of working class) were a driving force behind imposing limits on government o John Locke and John Stuart Mill- political theorists that shaped our concept of liberty and political rights o Expansion of participation- more people have a legal right to take part in politics o Power- influence over a government’s leadership, organization, or policies o Representative Democracy (Republic)- system of government in which the populace elects representatives who play an important role in governmental decision making o Direct Democracy- system of rule that permits citizens to vote directly on laws and policies o America is a republic on a national level, but many cities and states have provisions for direct legislation through popular initiative and ballot referendum o Pluralism (Group Politics)- theory that all interests are and should be free to compete for influence in government; the outcome of this competition is compromise and moderation o Americans like the idea of pluralism but fear some groups may possess too much power o Some changes occur through direct action rather than going through formal channels. Direct action includes protesting, violent politics, and civil disobedience. Peaceful direct action is protected by the Constitution  Who Are Americans? o The definition of “We the People” has changed drastically since the Founding and is still changing o Today Americans are much more diverse than the population at the time of the Founding o Ethnicity of Americans has been of much debate- some saying that Americans are an Anglo-Saxon people, others challenging that opinion o Religious diversity challenged American life because Americans were predominately Protestant until the early twentieth century o Race and ethnicity have been used numerous times as criteria to restrict immigration  The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 o Race and ethnicity, religion, age, geography, socioeconomic status, and population and representation are all factors that are continuously changing among Americans  American Political Culture- o Most people agree on political values (namely liberty, equality, and democracy) but disagree over the goals of government o Political Culture- broadly shared values, beliefs, and attitudes about how government should function o Liberty- freedom from governmental control  Personal AND economic freedom  Requires a (somewhat) limited government  Capitalism  Free markets  Protection of private property  Laissez-Faire Capitalism- economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately owned and operated for profit with minimal or no government interference  There is a clear tradeoff for security and liberty o Equality-  Equality of Opportunity- widely shared American ideal that all people should have the freedom to use whatever talents and wealth they have to reach their fullest potential  Equality is not well-defined because many people interpret the meaning of equality differently  Implies an obligation of the government to intervene and serve the people  Political Equality- right to participate in politics equally, based on the principle of “one person, one vote”  Americans believe in political equality and the government’s enforcement of that equality o Democracy-  Political power comes from the people  Popular Sovereignty- principle of democracy in which political authority rests ultimately in the hands of the people  Majority Rule, Minority Rights- democratic principle that a government follows the preferences of the majority of voters but protects the interests of the minority  Founders feared a “tyranny of the majority” that would violate individual liberties  Bill of Rights serve as a check on the power of the majority  Many worry that the tie between money and political power undermines democracy  Review- o There is no perfect balance between liberty, equality, and democracy o Democracy can NOT function without knowledgeable and engaged citizens o Diversity of Americans is a great asset to our democracy as well as a challenge o Every wave of demographic change in in the American people has caused new questions concerning the role of government in promoting democracy that values liberty AND equality to arise. o Informed participation is the only way to ensure that governmental decisions best reflect the will of the people


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